The Consulting Sourcing Process: The Criticality of Involving the Right Players in the Game
The success of a consulting project, to a large extent, depends on its consulting sourcing process. Organizations hire consultants for many reasons — to identify growth-hindering areas, to get an expert’s perspective of a specific market, to address employee productivity of existing staff, to revise business objectives and strategies, revitalize marketing initiatives and many more.
Now, consulting is mostly a team game and every project has its unique definition of the ideal team. A team consisting of the right consultants allows a business to transcend its current limitations, and scale new heights.
Well, this was just scratching the surface; let’s get into the details.
Consulting Sourcing Process Is a Team Game and You Need the Right Players to Play It to the Perfection
The whole point of the consulting sourcing process is to make sure the project you are launching will bring the impact you expect. With this objective in mind, the consulting sourcing process aims at finding the right consultants that can deliver the desired impact. For the success of this process, you need to bring to the table the right players and give them the right responsibilities.
In your quest for the ideal consultant, you should ensure that the consultants are provided with all the information that helps them submit a relevant proposal. Let’s explain why it is a critical step in the sourcing process.
Suppose you are suffering from insomnia; will you rush to the store to buy a new bed? Of course not. You may end up with the largest bed in the store with all the gadgets, but your sleeping problem might still be there, unresolved. The most logical course of action would be to find out the root cause of the sleeplessness and, then, review other remedial options.
Similarly, in the case of your consulting sourcing process, you should start by explaining your project needs to a consulting firm. They would try to match your problem with their capabilities and experiences, assessing which of the available resources would fit the problem.
When you define your problem to the consulting firm, they discuss it internally, and based on that interaction, they identify personnel appropriate for handling that particular problem.
It doesn’t mean that your requirements are final. By articulating your problems, you are just optimizing the chances that the project you are launching will fix the issues you face.
Now you can understand, how important it is to document issues that you want to resolve. Unfortunately, too many companies leave that task to wrong hands, subsequently affecting the project outcome.
When you’ve identified and articulated your problem areas properly, the battle is half won. By involving the right players — who understand the nature of the problem and can feel the impact first hand, you can nail this first step.
It should also be added here that when it comes to procuring consulting services, the requirements are always dependent on the internal and external context of the company. A clear definition of what you expect and why is a key success factor for the project.
It is always a good idea to formalize your requirements into an RFP, even though you don’t necessarily want or need to organize a tender. For some practical advice To know how to craft the best and most effective consulting RFP, read this article: The Perfect Consulting Rfp Or The Fun Of Creating A Blueprint For The Right Consultant
Even before you start brainstorming ideas and envision your ideal outcome, you need to make sure that the right people are in the room to build the ideal team.
Depending on the magnitude of the project, you can adjust the size of your sourcing team. However, some roles are indispensable and you cannot just do without them. Below we identify those roles and why they are so important for any consulting project.
The Project Sponsor
The Project Sponsor is the person (often a manager or an executive) accountable for the project. S/he will ensure that the project delivers the expected outcomes and will champion the project to “sell” it within the project team and the organization. S/He will also be the chair of the Steering Committee.
The Project Sponsor has the right authority and decision-making power to lead the project effectively. S/he is also directly impacted by the project outcomes.
Usually, the project sponsor owns the budget. However, in some companies, consulting budgets are centralized under the CEO, Finance, or Strategy. In this case, you might want to invite the budget owner to the party as well.
The Project Manager
The Project Manager is the person that has daily accountability for the project. S/he will guide the consultants and make sure they work under the right conditions with the teams and deliver the expected results in time.
S/he is very often part of the Project Sponsor Team and is impacted directly by the project.
The Procurement Leader
Unless you are working on a very small project and already have a list of potential providers handy, you want to have someone from Procurement in the room. Sourcing the right candidates can take some time, and it is sometimes useful to start early in the process.
Besides, procurement managers are experts in defining needs and preparing bids, while it is rarely the case for the rest of the organization. They can facilitate your work and guide you through the process.
Many companies, however, don’t have the critical mass to have someone dedicated to consulting procurement. In that case, you can include in your team the person in charge of Indirect Procurement or the Head of Purchasing.
The Main Stakeholders
We mentioned that the project sponsor and the project manager are often part of the same team. However, their department might not be the only ones impacted by the project.
Ask yourself if you should expect a strong impact on or a profound change in interfaces with another part of the organization. If that’s the case, it can be a good idea to involve them at the requirements stage.
Suppose your project is very large, like a Company-wide Transformation project. In that case, you might also want to involve Finance and Strategy to ensure that it is aligned with the overall strategy.
With The Right Players in Your Team, Your Consulting Sourcing Process Is Ready to Take Off
As far as consulting sourcing team is concerned, we cannot agree more. With the right team at your disposal, you can have a fast, straightforward, and transparent sourcing process. The team starts working right from the brainstorming phase.
The same team will be present to evaluate the quality of proposals, listen to the consultants’ pitches, and participate in the selection. Success for a project, being delivered with consultants or not, is often described as a sustainable impact.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson
And those of you who have been around for a bit know that it starts with change management as early as possible in the project. Among the key success factors of change management, you find key executive support and employee engagement.
Embarking on them at the inception of a project, defining the needs and the expectations, is definitely a step in the right direction. Do you want to know more about consulting sourcing tips and techniques? Get in touch with us. We are all ears!
Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.